What Do The Numbers On Firefighter Helmets Stand For?

If you have ever seen firefighters out on a call or have been lucky enough to visit a fire station on an open day, then you may have caught a glimpse of the firefighter's helmets.

These are there to give the crew much-needed heat protection and have been designed in a way to provide the most amount of safety and protection possible.

But one thing that stands out on these helmets is not their odd shape or color, but rather the numbers on the front.

If you have ever wondered what this means then you have come to the right place. Keep reading to learn all about firefighters' helmets.

What Do The Numbers On Firefighter Helmets Stand For?

What Do The Numbers Mean?

In the past, groups of firefighters that worked on the same piece of equipment or had the same area of responsibility were called companies, and these companies were named by their original members. 

But when modern fire departments started coming into existence around the turn of the 20th century, a numbering system started to be used, where the first company to sign up in a particular area was granted the number one spot and the rest of the companies' numbers increased from there.

So in current times, you will in all probability notice a number or numbers on the helmets worn by firefighters that indicates their membership in a company or department. 

However, depending on the department, more prominently displayed will be either the firefighter's personal number or the name of their company.

In this day and age, it is standard practice for firefighter helmets to clearly show the fireman's membership number with the company.

This tradition has been around for quite some time. Firefighters are the rightful owners of their numbers for which they have worked very hard to earn.

In Big Cities

While rural areas typically only have one fire station, in big cities there can be dozens or more.

In this scenario, it is not enough to have just one number system (which would be the station number and your own personal number). Instead, the numbers signify which station you belong to. 

A good example of this can be found in the fire stations of New York City. 

The New York City Fire Department utilizes the numbers that are painted on a fireman's helmet to identify the firehouse where the firefighter is assigned to work.

There is no difference between the number and the number of the fire engine. 

The number that corresponds to the ladder is the second one in the sequence.

This makes it possible at first glance, to know which station house a fireman works out of and gather information about them.

When you come across a fire engine, you will see that the drivers, as well as the firemen who are riding in it, will all be wearing the number that has the same engine number as the truck.

What Do The Numbers On Firefighter Helmets Stand For

Battalions And Companies

A fire station's company is the most important and basic component of its organizational structure.

Even if there is only one piece of equipment and a crew, it will still be commanded by either a captain or a lieutenant regardless of the size of the operation.Either two drivers or only one driver and one firefighter can operate a single truck at the same time, depending on the situation.

When operating in bigger areas, there is likely to be more than one truck involved, and each truck will likely have its own staff. 

There is a number assigned to each fire engine and truck, and the fire station that is responsible for housing that particular engine or vehicle is sometimes referred to as the "home" of that engine.

There is a number that corresponds to the fire station that the fireman is assigned to inscribed on their cap. 

Around five stations and the companies that are quartered at those stations make up the standard layout of a battalion's organizational structure.

The majority of the time, the supervision of all five stations falls on the shoulders of a single battalion chief.

Marine And Volunteer Crews

In addition to the battalions and the crews, each district has both a maritime sector (where applicable) and a volunteer crew that operates inside it.

Whenever there is a need for more crew members, volunteer crews are mobilized to assist. 

Depending on the desires of the individual, the position of a volunteer might either be rewarded or unpaid. It is the responsibility of the marine division to respond to calls regarding ships in distress and fires that occur on the water. 

It's possible that certain fire stations in forest regions have fire camp teams or other special crews that deal with specific kinds of flames, including chemical or utility-based burns.

These personnel deal with specific kinds of fires. The suppression of flames of this nature falls under the purview of these teams.

The Numbers 

In the city of New York, each borough has an engine number and a ladder number that are specifically allotted to them. The word "engine" is represented by the letter "E" on various types of helmets. 

For example, the fire engines serving the Manhattan area each have a unique number, ranging from one to forty.

On the helmets that firemen in the region wear, the letter E and the engine number will be painted in some fashion. 

Each district is also given a ladder number, which is used to identify the vehicle used to transport ladders throughout the district.

There is a possibility that the number E247 will be shown on one side of a firefighter's helmet, while the number L178 will be displayed on the other. 


The numbers on a firefighters helmet typically represents the station that they are from and their personal ID number.

But in bigger cities, the number can also show what district they work in, what rank they are, and what engine they drive.